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PRESS RELEASE: Union, faith, environmental, other Kansas groups call for better clean energy policy

9 years ago | Mar 19, 2009
Some Kansans see a bright side to the hard times these days " the promise of clean energy. But many of them aren't convinced that the state legislature gets it. Several hundred people from across the state gathered at the capitol in Topeka on Thursday to call for a "clean vote on clean energy." "We want the jobs," Emil Ramirez of U.S. Steelworkers told the crowd. "Kansas has the third best wind resource in the nation. We need to be building those turbines here, not watching them get trucked in from somewhere else." Several statewide polls have shown that Kansans overwhelmingly support clean energy. "It's not drill, baby, drill," said Kathie Moore of the Reno County Wind Energy Task Force. "It's blow, baby, blow." "Good energy policy is being held hostage by a coal plant proposal," said Scott Allegrucci of GPACE. "We're here to make our voices heard." The clean energy story wasn't just about jobs, money, and politics, though. It was also about doing the right thing. "Kansas has an opportunity to model for the rest of the country how to meet our energy needs and still fulfill our duty for being responsible stewards of creation," said Connie Pace-Adair of Wichita, ordained minister and steering committee member of Kansas Interfaith Power and Light. "As faith leaders, we urge our elected officials to take very seriously, as we do, the Bible's injunction to care for the earth and the creatures within it." The crowd was definitely diverse " members of U.S. Steelworkers, United Autoworkers, Kansas Farmers Union, and the Communications Workers of America stood side by side with members of League of Women Voters, American Lung Association, Sierra Club and other environmental groups, and members of faith communities. Wichita machinists were represented as well. Supporters of energy bills currently in the state legislature claim that the legislation provides clean energy and jobs. This crowd clearly disagreed. Several speakers said that the bills were all about coal, and didn't send strong anywhere near enough messages on renewable energy to bring new manufacturing and economic development to the state. Other speakers cited a study that says renewables could bring tens of thousands of jobs to the state, plus billions of dollars in investment. "Coal jobs benefit a few," said Donn Teske, McPherson, of Kansas Farmers' Union. "Wind jobs benefit many.  They benefit the entire state." "Here's a message to our Kansas legislators," said Kim Hanson of True Blue Women, Overland Park. "Quit wasting our time trying to force new coal plants and start doing something positive for Kansans now and for future generations to come. And by the way, there is no clean coal." "My generation fought to racially integrate this poisonous, pollution-based economy," said Richard Mabion of Building a Sustainable Earth Community. "I feel the best way for us to honor and continue my generation's legacy, is to make sure that a new, clean and green economy, has a place for everyone from the beginning." "We can stay with business as usual and preside over an economy that continues to destroy its natural support systems," said Diane Kuhn of the statewide chapter of the League of Women Voters, "Or we can be the generation that changes direction, moving the world onto a path of sustained progress." Participants at Clean Energy Day included members from the following groups: Kansas Interfaith Power and Light Kansas Farmers Union Kansas Rural Center League of Women Voters United Auto Workers United Steelworkers United Steelworkers local - Topeka Goodyear plant Kansas Natural Resource Council True Blue Women Building a Sustainable Earth Community Reno County Wind Energy Task Force American Lung Association Climate and Energy Project (CEP) GPACE Sierra Club Contact Info: Maril Hazlett, The Climate and Energy Project of the Land Institute, www.climateandenergy.org

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